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In re Guardino

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

April 19, 2017

In the Matter of Anthony Guardino, admitted as Anthony Vincent Guardino, an attorney and counselor-at-law.
v.
Anthony Guardino, respondent. Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Judicial Districts, petitioner; Attorney Registration No. 1641885

         DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING instituted by the Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Judicial Districts. The respondent was admitted to the Bar at a term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Second Judicial Department on September 12, 1979, under the name Anthony Vincent Guardino. By decision and order on application of this Court dated March 2, 2016, the Grievance Committee was authorized to institute and prosecute a disciplinary proceeding against the respondent based upon a verified petition dated December 8, 2015, and the issues raised were referred to John P. Clarke, Esq., as Special Referee, to hear and report.

          Diana Maxfield Kearse, Brooklyn, NY (Colette M. Landers of counsel), for petitioner.

          Scalise & Hamilton LLP, Scarsdale, NY (Deborah A. Scalise of counsel), for respondent.

          RANDALL T. ENG, P.J. REINALDO E. RIVERA MARK C. DILLON RUTH C. BALKIN JOHN M. LEVENTHAL, JJ.

          OPINION & ORDER

          PER CURIAM.

         The Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Judicial Districts (hereinafter the petitioner) served the respondent with a petition dated December 8, 2015, containing five charges of professional misconduct. After a preliminary conference held on April 26, 2016, and a hearing conducted on June 9, 2016, the Special Referee sustained all charges in a report dated August 26, 2016. The petitioner now moves to confirm the Special Referee's report and to impose such discipline as the Court deems just and proper. The affirmation in response submitted by the respondent's counsel requests that a public censure or a suspension no greater than one year be imposed.

         Charge one alleges that the respondent engaged in a pattern and practice of misappropriating escrow funds entrusted to him as a fiduciary, incident to his practice of law, in violation of rule 1.15(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR 1200.0) as follows:

         The respondent maintained an attorney escrow account at JPMorgan Chase Bank, account no. ending 4165, entitled "IOLA-Anthony Guardino" (hereinafter the escrow account). Between April 2, 2013, and December 17, 2013, the respondent deposited into, and paid from his escrow account, a total of $197, 199.99 representing real estate down payments received on behalf of five clients, as follows:

DATE

DEPOSIT CLIENT

PAYOUT DATE

4/02/2013

$20, 000.00

Villa 9/18/2013

6/03/2013

$65, 250.00

Taylor 8/22/2013

6/20/2013

$33, 999.99

Golden 8/22/2013

7/19/2013

$54, 000.00

Shaw 9/17/2013

7/30/2013

$23, 950.00

Continental 12/17/2013

         Between July 30, 2013, and August 22, 2013, the balance in the respondent's escrow account fell below the $197, 199.99 he was required to preserve, as follows:

DATE ACCOUNT BALANCE

7/30/2013 $196, 325.50
8/14/2013 $194, 454.94

         Between August 22, 2013, and September 17, 2013, the respondent was required to maintain $97, 950 in escrow on behalf of clients Villa, Shaw, and Continental. However, the balance in the respondent's escrow account fell below that amount as follows:

DATE ACCOUNT BALANCE

8/29/2013 $54, 128.32
8/30/2013 $51, 522.92
9/09/2013 $45, 022.92

         On October 2, 2013, the respondent deposited a real estate down payment into his escrow account in the amount of $8, 250 on behalf of a client named Love, which he was required to maintain in escrow until December 23, 2013. As of October 9, ...


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